Silt pollution costs landfill operator over £60,000

On 13 May 2005, at Welshpool Magistrates Court, the Magistrates found in favour of the Environment Agency in relation to a case concerning the impact of discharge of silt from Sundorne Products (Llanidloes) Ltd's Bryn Posteg premises. The Magistrates imposed total fines of £42,000 and costs awarded to the Environment Agency were £18,447.77p.

The Magistrates said, in reaching their conclusion, that, it was their belief that such a large amount of silt being deposited in a stream of only half a metre width would have undoubtedly resulted in some harm to the macroinvertibrate and trout population, even though there was no direct evidence presented during the case confirming this.

The charges were brought by the Environment Agency under Section 85 of the Water Resources Act 1991.

Speaking after the case, Samantha Morgan, an Environment Agency officer involved in the investigation, said: “Companies have a responsibility to do all they can to prevent polluting materials entering watercourses from their premises. They must also deal with any instance of this happening as soon as possible. Sundorne failed to do either, resulting in a serious pollution.”

The Environment Agency’s Barrister, Martin Diggins, told the court that on Wednesday 30 July 2003 an Environment Agency officer inspecting Sundorne Products (Llanidloes) Ltd’s Bryn Posteg landfill site saw that the Nant-y-Bradnant watercourse directly below the landfill was discoloured with a considerable amount of silt.

On Thursday 31 July 2003 the officer carrying out a further inspection of the site found no evidence that any contaminated surface waters were leaving the site. The site manager was made aware of the issue and the officer raised her concern that silt contaminated water may be discharging to the watercourse via a land drain.
Subsequent investigations by the officer identified the contaminated water as coming from a pipe in the field below the landfill.

The site manager was made aware of the discovery and when asked about the structure, he indicated that it could be part of the landfill’s groundwater management system.

On Friday 1 August 2003 the watercourse was still visibly contaminated. The officer returned to the landfill site and could find no evidence that anything was being done to address the problem.

Investigations indicated that a leak in the site’s newly constructed surface-water settlement-lagoon had resulted in a discharge to the groundwater drains and a clay patch had been put in place to prevent further leakage.

In November and December 2003 discharges contaminated with suspended solids were observed directly discharging into the Nant-Y-Bradnant from the settlement lagoon.
A sample of the discharge taken on 3 December 2003 showed that solids were 38 times over the limits set out in water regulations.

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